Men proving their manhood, women feisty and maternal by turns: Appalacian sexual politics during the depression are certainly basic in these backwoods where Collie (McGillis) rears an illegitimate child after being spurned by her clean-cut kinfolk. Into her life wanders gentle, clock-making widower Wayland (Russell) and his daughter. Does Collie choose Wayland or her brutish ex-lover (Meek), who hails from an uncouth rival family? Will the two clans ever agree on matters of personal hygiene? No prizes for guessing the outcome. Adapted from John Ehle's novel, this is highly predictable romantic melodrama, of the kind you find in fat paperbacks. We're meant to draw some significant parallels between the title, the harsh landscape, and emotional isolation, but the contrived connections lack substance. Even a murder mystery is introduced, too late to kick life into events, such is the certainty that wholesomeness will triumph over the eye-for-an-eye crudity of the villans.
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